Majestic. Otherworldly. Unspoiled. These are but three of the unique adjectives that will likely pop to mind as you begin your extraordinary expedition to and throughout the southernmost continent of the world - Antarctica. Planning an excursion to this icy destination takes a bit of forethought, but thankfully, you can easily partner with an experienced trip planner with deep knowledge of the Antarctic continent and the surrounding areas to make your voyage as relaxing and rejuvenating as possible. If you're ready to plan an unforgettable exploration to Antarctica, keep the following tips in mind prior to disembarking onto the ice:
1. IT IS GOING TO BE COLD
Beachgoers beware! It's no mystery that Antarctic travel is a cold weather expedition into the wilds of the Southern Hemisphere. Available travel dates normally range from December to February of each year - the warmest months in this part of the world. It will be cold, but proper clothing will keep you totally comfortable. Many guides in the Antarctic live by the motto "There is no such thing as bad weather - only bad clothing!" Plan on dressing like you would on the ski slopes and you'll be fine. Layers are always a smart move, and don't try to save money on cheap gloves, headgear, or boots. A few extra dollars spent on quality clothing can go a long way toward keeping you comfortable and happy.
2. YOU'LL BE IN UNIQUE COMPANY
Few people have visited this part of the world, so feel good that you are a part of this continent's history. Each footprint you leave in the snow and ice works to create the landscape, and you'll spend time marveling at the notion that this truly is an unspoiled part of the world with virtually zero "tourist traps" to get in the way of your explorations. Part of the fun of Antarctica travel is feeling a bit like an intrepid explorer (without all of the danger that your predecessors faced hundreds of years ago!). You can't help but feel exhilarated when trekking across the frozen expanses of this Southernmost continent.
3. THERE ARE NO NATIVES
Science indicates that not a single person visited the continent until around 1820, which is recent compared to the 5 million year-old history of some parts of Africa! You're literally creating the history of the area when you visit, instead of simply looking at something that has already been built up. There is no indigenous population in Antarctica, and the majority of the continent's inhabitants are scientists. With the global population expanding at a rapid pace, it won't be long before Antarctica becomes more popular, affordable, and accessible to the masses.
4. IT IS OTHERWORLDLY
If you've ever wanted to visit outer space and skip across the lunar surface, visiting Antarctica is a close approximation to that intergalactic feeling. Barely anyone has lived in Antarctica, there are practically no trees, plants or greenery in sight, and the only animal inhabitants seem untouched and quite unaware of the world outside. Antarctica is hauntingly beautiful, yet chillingly desolate. In environments such as this, you'll find it is easy to make real, lasting connections with your travel mates as you discover and appreciate the vastness of the Antarctic landscape together.
5. THE ICEBERGS ARE SPECTACULAR
Your cruise ship will head south from a rendezvous point in South America, and the number and size of icebergs will dramatically increase as you near the southernmost continent of Antarctica. Even if you've seen icebergs before - perhaps on a trip to Alaska - you've never witnessed ones like the icebergs in the Southern Hemisphere. Like a snowflake, no two icebergs are the same, and each represents a floating wall of sea ice imbued with some of the most brilliant colors imaginable.
6. BRING A CAMERA
The local animal life (penguins, lots of penguins!) have virtually no fear of humans and have no natural predators on land, which makes them willing accomplices when it comes to taking incredible wildlife photos. We bet that the captivating landscapes and amazing imagery will be some of the best photos you've ever taken. Just remember to pack gloves that allow easy access to your camera equipment.
Antarctica is a dream expedition for many. From the notoriously exciting Drake Passage crossing, to the ability to witness and photograph whales, penguins and seabirds in their uncaged, natural environment, Antarctica is truly a trip of a lifetime.